Thursday, October 13, 2016

The October Holiday

The October Holiday. Another Holiday when EVERYONE is off for 1 week.  We traveled with some friends to his home village for the week.  We left the night before the holiday started to "beat the traffic" but half of the country decided to do the same thing.  The 13 hour bus trip took 25 hours!  The picture above was at a rest stop at 3 am.
So, what do you do at a rest stop at 3 am? Eat noodles of course!
While your mom and sister wait in the CRAZY line for the bathroom!

More time on the bus!  I'm glad we were on a bus full of friends. It makes the time pass much better.
arrived at the village (day 3 after we slept a little...we arrived late at night on day 2)
I'm glad they had noodles.  I can handle noodles in the morning.  There's some other things that I have trouble eating so early in the day...I'm just not a big breakfast person.

Walking down the streets, we passed many things.  The graves in this area were so interesting to me.  All of them were similar to this one.
We were eating lunch in the village.  I'm not a fan of zhou (porridge) but they certainly liked it.  That was the biggest bucket of it I have ever seen.
It didn't take long before the lunch crowd realized their was a foreigner eating there also.
The next hour looked like this :)  We really don't mind.
I just love seeing these sweet faces light up when they see us.  For most of them it is the first and maybe the only time they will see a foreigner.

These sweet faces.

We traveled into the city and "climbed a hill" (about a 30 minute walk up stairs) to see the "entire city"
Our friend took this picture.  I thought it turned out quite well :)
Benjamin had this spot staked out for his picture :)  Yes, we try our best to educate everyone to be Tennessee fans ;)
The view
On the way day the hill, the kids got to see a blacksmith at work.  They wanted to hang around longer and see him finish what he was working on, but that is the downside of traveling with a group.  Our kids were the only ones interested.  The younger ones had just read about a blacksmith in their American history the week before, so they were extremely intrigued.
Miu, Katherine, Yoyo, Lauren, Winter, and Allen
The next day we climbed a mountain.  We first rode a sky tram to the highest peak. Benjamin, Jonathan, and Hudson were in a car with Mark.
I had no idea that we were literally going up into the this clouds.  We couldn't see a thing :)
That didn't stop us from climbing (about 60 flights of stairs) Notice the guy in the background.  He was 90!  I was determined not to let him out walk me ;)

All the girls were in another car.

Just because we couldn't see the good view, didn't mean we couldn't have a good time.  My family loved the cooler air in the mountains.
And this was Katherine's favorite along the way.  She spotted five different hairy caterpillars.
Oh yes, and the glass bridge.  Well, I would really call it a glass walkway because it wasn't very long.  I'm sure it would have been a little more dramatic if we could tell exactly ow high up we were, but we got the picture anyways :) I still want to go to the actual glass bridge.  If you don't know, google it.  It looks so fun :)

On the way back down :)

We headed back to the house.  Benjamin and Xiao Jun ended up being bus buddies.  She said that she didn't know he could be so talkative :)
NEXT day. Yep. CLIMB a mountain!
Again, we needed to ride to the highest peak.  I thought we were high up on the first day.  IT didn't compare to this mountain.  At the end of the day, we had climbed 120 flights of stairs AFTER getting off the sky tram.  It was pretty crowded to start with.  Many in our group wanted to walk/climb really fast.  My knee was hurting from the day before and I wasn't sure if I could go that fast.  So our group was a little more spread out this day...half of my kids are in the front of the group (so other people's pictures) and the others were near the back with me.  Hudson was a trooper.  He climbed ALL the steps on both days.  Although the second day all we heard was "I've seen it.  Can we go home now?" :) haha!  
It was actually a partly sunny day at the base of the mountain, but foggy at the top.  The fog did blow away at times and you could hear everyone gasp (literally) at how beautiful everything was.  It was quite fun.

The glass plank!

Yes, all the steps were this steep.  It really isn't the going up that bothers me, it's the coming down.

So, once we got to the top, it was a pretty flat.  They had just made a walkway literally on the side of the mountain.

I'm not sure if you can tell or not, but the walkways are just hanging on the side of the mountains (and the rails were not very high nor the pathways very wide)
I ventured to look's way up there!

We even came across a wooden bridge...that's Katherine and Benjamin off to the right in the pink/red colors.
And Regan in the center
Katherine, Regan, and I walked out on the glass plank, too.  I really wish it had been clear.  Crazy!

The "I'm here and you can take my picture but this really isn't fun look" :)

Finally, the fog blew away and we could see more of the beauty.
This was Katherine's favorite spot because it had one little tree on the top by itself.

What's funny is that you can't even see ANY of these mountains from the bottom.  They are all above the first layer of clouds.  It's pretty crazy.
That's a lot of people on one bridge! :)

The journey back down.....well, thankfully, Jonathan knew how bad my knee was hurting before we ever climbed the second mountain and he bought me a walking stick.  He said it would come in handy.  He was right!  Well, after many flights DOWN the mountain and increasing pain in my knee, it must have started to show. I felt old and apparently looked like I needed help because the "rescue" people stopped and asked if I wanted to be carried down the mountain.  I said no.  I could do it.  After another 30 minutes climbing down the mountain, my knee gave out on me.  They asked me again if I wanted to be carried down the mountain and the pain won out over my pride.

My kids laughed and my youngest kid Hudson had the time of his life....he got to ride, too!  Sitting on a lawn chair that is ties with ropes to two bamboo poles that is carried on the shoulders of two men not any bigger than the size of your children who are literally RUNNING down the steps of the mountain

Since I had spent the day basically without a single picture on the mountain with this sweet girl, we took one in line for the sky tram.  She also showed me this souvenir that our friend bought for her.  They took her picture on the mountain then wrote her name in rainbow colors at the top and laminated it. She was one excited girl.
 The next day they told me not to mountains, just a boat ride on the lake. :)
 Daniel got to go on the trip.  His brain is still shrinking, but he has a great big sister who has loved him and taken care of him and is determined to give him a good life.  I loved that he smiled on this ride.  He doesn't really talk anymore, but he still communicates with his eyes and body language.
 on the boat
our group
Katherine found a big mushroom :)
Lunch in the village after the boat ride.  The black dish on the bottom left tasted like country ham...although I have been told when you are away from "real" American food for so long that you start to think things taste like "home" but really you have just forgotten ;)  We were told that it was wild hog.
My kiddos...caught this one feeding the restaurant cat the head of her fish.
And this one was feeding his scraps to the dog.
While this one is trying her best to catch a chicken because she wants a picture with them :)
Just some kids on the street..
I can't explain these next two pictures.  All I know is they were using this machine and bark below to make oil.

This was all of my kids favorite day!  We all got to help bring in the rice harvest!
This is the machine they use to get the grain off.  There is a foot pedal that they are constantly pushing up and down while they hold the tips of the grain in the machine.  They hold it there until it is cut off into the bin.
Then it is hand scooped into buckets and carried on the shoulders out of the field where it can be laid out to dry (which is a whole other process that we won't go into)
Once back at the homes, the ground is covered with the grain.  During the harvest time, it is literally everywhere!  It was on the side of the roads, at the homes, in front of stores, anywhere there was a flat place that the sun could reach.  You could see them raking through this several times a day.
Once it has been dried, the "shell" is removed and the single grain of rice is ready to be packaged. It is hard not to think about what goes into a single grain of rice every time we sit down to eat.  It's a lot of work.
 a handful of grain
 After the sun goes down, the harvest stops, but the fun continues.  They took all of the stalks that had no grain on them anymore and piled them on the floor to have a "soft" place to do flips. (the field is very muddy by the way)

 Teaching him right ;)  He had to stop and get a picture on his watch

 Each bunch that you cut needed to be laid in a pile.  You crossed them every other one until after you had 5 in a pile.
 This is the rice.
 Each of my kids learned how to properly use a sickle.
 There is a technique to it and the kids liked do it (even if there were some REALLY LARGE bugs)
 Hard at work
 Yes, I did it,'s the proof.  I'm not ALWAYS behind the camera ;)

 Hudson did it also (with Daddy's help)  I really didn't want him cutting a finger off, so they worked as a team :)

A stream nearby the house.
They brought the water up from the well :)
I know it was a lot of pictures, but we really did so much last week!  I didn't want to leave anything out!  I think we are finally recovered and rested up from the trip.  :)